2 Examples of Homeowner Mistakes

Inexperienced Renovators

I recently came across two examples of updates made by homeowners that are fairly common.  In general homeowners won’t attempt repairs on core systems like electrical or heating.  Repairs or updates to plumbing and roofs are quite common.  The following are two actual examples I have come across in my inspections.

The science of plumbing traps.

The plumbing trap below your sink drain is exactly what it sounds like.  The trap holds water in it creating a seal so waste gases do not escape into your kitchen or bathroom.  The iconic “P” trap is the most effective way of doing this.  There are other types of traps but many are not allowed to be used in Canada.

Accepted plumbing Trap

Improper plumbing Traps

An accepted plumbing Trap should have the following characteristics:

  • There should always be water in the trap.
  • Ideally the trap is removable.
  • There should be a clean out plug at the bottom of the trap.
  • The trap must be vented (no further then 5′ from the trap).
  • The trap cannot be too far below the drain of the sink (no more than 24″).

Below is a picture of a sink I found during an inspection that had an obvious defect.


Notice how there is no trap.  The trap is actually located below the floor in the joists of the basement.  The distance from the bathroom sink drain to the trap is well over 30″.  This results in a trap that does not keep the water seal in the lower dip.  Water from the sink drains too fast siphoning the water out of the trap.  Sewer gasses will escape through the pipe into the bathroom.


Roofs need to be tight.

Water needs to roll off your roof or drain off.  Shingles and membranes have to be completely over the roof surface and without penetrations through to the roof sheathing.  We see vents, walls and chimneys with inadequate flashing often.  We also see exposed fasteners regularly.



Fasteners or nails in particular, should not be visible beyond the cover of the shingle tab.  While this happens often on ridges or the peak of the roof it should never be the case on the slope.  Water always finds a way in and giving it a direct route is not a good idea.


The other way water finds its way in to the interior from your roof is along poorly secured flashing.  Flashing is the transition material from surface to surface.  For example, wall to roof or around a chimney.  Also there are flashings in roof valleys where two different slopes meet.  In this example the homeowner simply forgot to refasten the flashing.  This leaves it vulnerable to wind damage and leaking.

Repairs to these issues are not complicated however, very necessary.  With exposed nails, use asphalt caulking and cover the heads of the nails.  Be generous with the amount you dab on the nail.  Refasten the flashing and use caulking on the screw penetrations as well as seams in the flashing.

Not the end of the world.

These two examples are typical of homeowner or amateur work.  While this might be alarming, they are not irreversible.  If you as the new homeowner feel comfortable with repairing such defects, go for it.  Inform yourself and be safe.  If you are not, inform yourself and find a handyman company that is well reviewed.  Either way, inform yourself!


Posted by Jeremy Scratch

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